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Student News

Learning this language could earn you over £50K

Language students: rejoice. It’s been revealed that speaking a second language could add a huge amount on to your potential salary.

Map with language translation

Credit: Kundra (background), Reservoir Dots (foreground) – Shutterstock

If you’re one of the 8% of Brits able to boast fluency in a second language, you’re in luck.

It’s no secret that speaking other languages boosts your employability, but a new study by City Lit has revealed how different languages compare in terms of their average salaries.

It's been found that speaking a second language can increase your salary by tens of thousands of pounds.

There's a pretty significant difference between the average salaries of the highest-earning language and the lowest. So, while it's always good to learn a new language if you can, you might want to think about which language you choose.

Which languages earn the most money?

LanguageAverage salary
Turkish£53,071
Gujarati£44,109
Chinese (any form)£42,327
Somalian£42,167
Italian£39,236

In 2018, the average full-time income in the UK was £569 a week (around £29,588 a year) according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This means that speaking Turkish as a second language could earn you a salary of over £23,000 a year higher than the average.

To put it into context, that £23,000 difference between the average UK salary and the average income of people who can speak Turkish in Britain is around equal to the average graduate salary in the UK.

Maybe it's time to open up Duolingo and give Turkish a go? Your bank account might thank you for it in the future.

Looking for ways to make money from your language skills? We've got loads of great tips.

Which languages earn the least?

LanguageAverage salary
Sign language£21,333
Welsh£23,321
Lithuanian£24,643
Bengali£25,955
French£27,722

We're sorry to see that, topping the table as the lowest-earning language, is sign language, earning on average £21,333 – over £8,000 less than the UK average salary in 2018.

If you communicate with sign language because you're deaf or have hearing loss, you may be entitled to Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) and to travel concessions, like a Disabled Person's Railcard. You can find out more about applying for DSA in our in-depth guide to Student Finance.

Surprised to see French in the list of five lowest-earning languages? This could be because it's so commonly spoken in the UK – 47% of Brits claim to speak French as a second language. C’est beaucoup!

Five tips for learning a new language as a student

Spanish reference from Anchorman

Credit: DreamWorks Pictures

  1. Schedule in time each week for learning and practising a new language. Particularly if you don't have too many contact hours at uni, you can easily work around your studies to perfect your skills.
  2. Download a language app. Duolingo's not your only option – you could also try Memrise or Busuu.
  3. Once you've started learning, watch films and TV shows in that language. Netflix have loads of great foreign films and shows to choose from. If you're feeling less confident, you can put subtitles on – just listening to the language being spoken will help you learn.
  4. Learn from friends. Uni is an amazing opportunity to meet people from all over the world. If you know people who speak other languages, ask them to teach you words and phrases and, when you're at a good standard, try having proper conversations with them in that language.
  5. Travel! Actually visiting a country and meeting locals has got to be one of the best ways of learning a language. But, when choosing where to go, try to avoid really touristy cities where people might be more likely to speak to you in English. If you're spending a year travelling, have a look at our tips on doing a gap year on a budget.
We have plenty more advice on learning a second language at university here.

Spending some of your degree in another country? See our handy guide about Student Finance on a year abroad.

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